Another arm German afficionados have favorably compared to the Schroeder is the Scheu Tacco, which is considerably cheaper. See scheu-analog.de, there is an English version and contact, too.
52 responses Add your response
I have a Graham 2.2 currently, but was fortunate enough to hear the Model 2, DPS and Reference, and Tri-Planar 7 along with my 2.2 on my table during one long weekend a few months ago with a group of friends.
We did extensive comparisons using the same LPs.
The Model 2 was clearly better than my Graham 2.2;
The DPS was significantly better than the Model 2;
The Reference was clearly was superior to the Model 2.
I really liked the Tri-Planar 7 (which I understand from those that have heard both the older Tri-Planar's and Wheaton's, the model 7 is dramatically better than the older versions).
The Tri-Planar was fast, phenomenal in bringing out detail, soundstage and bass. The Tri-Planar 7 was close to the Schroder in certain areas such as dynamics and attack, but I clearly preferred the Schroder Reference to the Tri-Planar. In fact, I would even prefer the Schroder 2 Personally, I would prefer the Schroder 1 over Tri-Planar. It just was more musical and emotive. The whole Schroder line is just magical.
As an aside, I had the Basis Vector and preferred the Graham 2.2 over the Vector.
I know that the Reference was quite expensive, but I would think it terms of stretching for the Reference. My feeling is that one could be done with tonearms for life with the Reference and it might be cheaper in the long run. The DPS was not that far off the mark of the Reference and it would be a good second option. I believe that the Model 1 is available on special order.
Excellent summary by Cello.
The Reference has a lower noise floor than any arm I've heard. Instrumental timbres, overtones, decays and hall information are amazingly good. The TriPlanar comes close, but doesn't quite match it. The DPS is a hair behind that and the Model Two somewhat farther back, though still very, very good.
Personally I place the TriPlanar VII just below the Reference and above the DPS, but it's definitely a matter of taste and system synergy. Cello's listening room tends to emphasize the TriPlanar's relative strengths (transient speed). In a lively environment many people would find it a bit too fast, almost edgy.
My room is more damped, so the TriPlanar's greater transient speed does not get emphasized into edginess.
Another caveat is cartridge synergy. The top Schroeder is capable of getting the best out of more cartridges than the TriPlanar. A ZYX works well on either arm, but a Shelter 901 on a TriPlanar sounds edgy and rather hifi. Yet on a Schroeder Ref it sings like a god.
Disclaimer: I'm the owner of the TriPlanar VII we used in that extensive comparison, so owner bias may influence my ears. OTOH, we bought the TriPlanar after hearing the Schroeder Ref. While we recognized the Ref's incomparable musicality, the TriPlanar's superb VTA adjustability was very important for our sonic priorities.
Doug pretty much hits the nail on the head with his description.
My take on Graham tonearms (extensive experience with both the 2.2 ceramic & the Robin), is that they are an expression of a different musical sensibility than either the Triplanar or the Schroeder.
Bob Graham is a great fellow and extremely competent engineer. The Robin embodies quite a large percentage of the performance of the 2.2 and Bob is to be congratulated for this. It's really quite an achievement. The arm gets unfairly dissed because of it's pedestrian appearance. Bob decided to put the engineering where it counted - in the sonics and not appearances. I think he made the right choices.
I had my Galibier deck reviewed by Art Dudley with a Graham Robin. The idea was to give him several points of reference from which to evaluate my turntable. Unfortunately (other than my brief visit where I fit a Schroeder to the deck for an evening's listening), the review period ended before I could deliver either a Rega or a Naim armboard to him. That's a whole 'nuther story however.
I've not experienced the Phantom, but I would expect more of the same from Bob, only better. Neither the 2.2 or the Robin suit my listening biases, but they may suit yours.I'd call them more of an audiophile's tonearm. They do everything right in terms of tracking the groove and they're incredibly easy to adjust. They don't however float my boat the way that either the Triplanar or the Schroeders do. Obviously, your mileage (and system) may vary.
Disclaimer: I may be slightly biased, because I sell both Schroeders and Triplanars, but I do so for a reason ... I believe in them.
Thom @ Galibier
SORRY!I feel pretty confident that anyone who does not have his/her "boat floated" by the 2.2's performance(not having anything to do with the excellence of the other arms,mentioned here)has definitely NOT had enough "Extensive" experience(coming from having spent your own money on one,so you're stuck with it,until you get it right)with the incredible degree of voicing options,that the "pain in the ass,but a blessing in disguise" damping fluid offers!!This along with the fabulous,and incredibly accurate,and repeatable other parameters offered in dialing it up.I can't buy into an arm(though I'm speculating,ONLY)that "voices", partly,to having the tightness of the cartridge mounting screws "variable".Why would I NOT want them tightly set in place,for maximum rigidity,and the elimination of potential resonances,over time?
Also,sorry Larry.You know I love you,but,I bet at the time of the 2.2 comparisons with the Schroeder(and you know I love that arm,so PLEASE don't anyone kill me,for a few ADMITTED speculations)you didn't really have the full feel of the Graham's "voicing" potential!Why do I feel that you or Doug will say otherwise!!
I know this comes off a bit "over the top",but I'm still learning the capabilities of the 2.2, to this date,and I love ALL the other arms mentioned.Well maybe the Robin isn't pricey enough!Just kidding!!
Now we've stirred the pot!Let's see what comes of it!Heh,heh,heh!!!
I am a big fan of the Graham 2.2 and spent a good deal of time working on the damping fluid after reading your and 4yanx posts (and prior to hearing 3 Schroder Arms in my system) on the value and how to find the ideal damping fluid. Getting the damping fluid correct, made a huge improvement in the sonics (I completely agree with you).
I think Mr. Graham's designs are excellent and he is a good guy (and that is important to me). I love the phenomenal ease of adjustability of his arms. Adjusting the VTA on the fly is a dream. I was even more impressed with the design of his Phantom, but I did not have the benefit of hearing it in my own system and cant give any valid feedback of how it sounded.
I still have the Graham 2.2 in my system and get great sound/music out of it. The fact that I liked what any of the Schroder Arms did for my system considerably better as compared to the 2.2, does not lower my opinion of the 2.2.
There was a room full of 8 people that were 100 percent in accord with the fact that they preferred all 3 of the Schroder Arms : the Model 2, DPS and Reference over the Graham 2.2. It was not even a bit of a debate. Does that make the 2.2 a mediocre arm ? Hardly, I think it is a terrific arm and a good value. I just think the Schroder Reference is an amazing tonearm. Will I get a Schroder at some point ? Yes, as soon as I can and it will be a Reference.
When you have had a Schroder in your system (perhaps even with a UNIverse) and been able to compare them side by side at the same time, listening to the same LP's, I think you might stop being so cynical and will sing a different tune. At this point, you are just twisting at Windmills (but you seem to enjoy it so).
The Graham 2.2 is an excellent arm, no doubt. Like all other top flight tonearms, it requires meticulous care in setup and I can tell that you have spent alot of time squeezing the last bit of performance out of it. But, other people put up just as much of an effort, so I'd be careful to dismiss their findings based on the assumption that you were the only guy in class to do his homework.
Now to a technical question. Why would you not want to have your cartridge screws tightly set(as in "one step before stripping the screw head") to eliminate resonance? Because tightening down those screws doesn't eliminate resonances(well, unless you have a flimsy headshell and a cartridge with a rigid, flat top surface body). What you do is create a "quicker" path for the vibratios coming from the cartridge to travel down the headshell/armwand/brearing assembly. Those vibrations have to "die out"(be dissipated) without exciting any resonances in the tonearms structure and/or being "bounced back" to the cartridge. If the arm features a high sound propagation speed and high rigidity headshell/armwand, keeping the cartridge screws quite tight seems the logical thing to do and sometimes is. The spectrum of vibrations fed into the armwand does vary from cartridge to cartridge though and often the energy transfer(both in terms of level and frequency content) can be influenced(I dare not say "controlled")by varying the coupling between the cart and the headshell.
In the case of the DPS and Reference arms, it is not the cartridge screws that are to be played with but the screw that holds/couples the headshell plate to the armwand. The brass sleeve inside the wooden headshell section(normally not visible) is slightly less "tall" than the headshell itself and allows the screw head to continually compress the wood until it hits the sleeve, which is the point when you've reached just as tight a coupling as with conventional arms. So instead of 15-20° from barely grabbing to "tight as a tax officers you know what", you have about half a turn of the screw to play with.
Please remember also that my arms do not depend/rely on the dissipation of energy in the arms mounting board. Here, maximum sound propagation is not as important as maximum and even damping to prevent vibrations being reflected back to the cart. And while there can be too much bearing damping, there is no such thing as an overly nonresonant tonearm structure(unless you prefer a certain "lively" arm sound).
If you'd criticize this adjustment option as a "voicing" tool, then VTA adjustment, silicon fluid damping or the choice of mounting board material fall into the same category.
I realize your remark was meant more as a tease, but thought this issue might be of general interest, hence my reply.
Greetings to all of you,
I am getting a little tired of this love fest fealty; regarding the Schroeder tone arm. I suppose they are excellent products. But for me it is a "turn off" for the main US vendor as well as the manufacturer to be constantly responding to comments or opinions that do not merely recite the mantra about the greatness of the product.
Presumably, the wait time for a Schroeder is more than 4 months because the manufacturer spends too much time surfing the web responding to divergent opinions
Dear Mr. Morris,
The last thing I enjoy is spending time in front of a computer screen. 95% of my replies deal with a technical question, if my answers do not interest you, skip'em! I'm still as much of an audio enthusiast as I was before I went "professional". Does that mean I can't participate in a technical discussion? I hope not...
And the waiting time is now 5 months(not likely because I responded to your post, my typing isn't THAT slow ;-)
Gmorris,loosen up,a bit.We are all having a good little chat.Nobody's calling anyone names,and this is how someone, like me,evaluates a product,and files the feedback in my memory bank(admittedly,a small one,at that).
I think Frank and Larry knew that I was being a bit "tongue in cheek",and I didn't detect any hostility,from them.I did have a "mild" concern about the "tightness issue"(one that didn't really bother me all that much,anyway)and just wanted to put it out there.So what?That is part of the fun of this forum,so long as nobody trashes a product,or each other.For me,it's all part of a learning process.I,unlike some,don't know it all!I,only,definitively, know my own stuff!You seem to be a good guy,so I hope you understand.
As for Frank's frequent responses.I,too,once questioned this.My take is this:He has every right to respond.He seems to take real PRIDE in his product,and it's reputation(would you want it any other way?).He has knowledge of his competition,and we can learn,a bit,from his input.Finally,and since I own a business,this is "damn good business practice",he continues to help his products by giving them exposure,through threads like this!
Larry,don't get pissed off,but you did make the claims of the "clear superiority" of the arm shoot out,PRIOR to my input pertaining to the 2.2 fluid(which I DON'T consider groundbreaking,just "BACKBREAKING",but I loved the "TWEAK" journey of discovery, when learning it for myself).You,now,admit that you learned, from getting better acquainted with the voicing potential of the fluid quantity(which is great).So,why should I not question the "absolute" validity of the comparison,some months ago.Believe me,when you get the REF,I'll be salivating for your response,in comparison to the 2.2.As of now I remain just a bit specious.I,certainly,never thought you didn't like the (quite fabulous,BTW)2.2!!This is the way it should be amongst audio friends.My friends tear each other apart during intense listening sessions(maybe I'm in the wrong crowd,actually),if someone doesn't like a particular aspect of set-up,or interfacing.To me,it has bettered my evaluation senses,and I've benefitted from this,in the long run(I think)!!
I really don't get too worked up if something I own gets a bad rap,from another hobbyist,or reviewer.Who cares!As long as I feel I know that product,and I'm not rationalizing to myself,about it.BTW,I'm NOT accusing you of any of this.Just sharing some(probably boring)thoughts.The ONLY time I get worked up is if I feel I'm at an impass on a particular component,that I've invested in,and I cannot get the performance,from it,that I feel I should.As of now(actually last night)I'm "reasonably" happy.Though that may change when you do get around to communicating you're, educated, thoughts on the REF vs the 2.2!!Or Albert Porter FINALLY "tells the world" that his tubed crossover modded Megalines are the "Real Deal".So,take your time.PLEASE!!!Let me be happy for a couple of days!
Larry,with all due respect.You do begin to sound a bit like what some accuse Raul of,when you go on about the UNIV!!I know you,and some others,have not actually claimed the ABSOLUTE superiority of it,but it's a bit rediculous to go on about it,or any product, as much as you do.To me,a product loses some credibility when someone uses every oportunity to tout it!
I hope you realize that this is in a good spirit,that I mention this.I don't want to create any kind of a rift.However your response to me,about how I may change my opinion on the Schroeder(which I have clearly stated,looks like a real winner),when set up with a Univ,smacks of condescension,particularly if you really think I am cynical about that arm,and that I'm just "twisting at windmills",for making some fairly valid claims.I have absolutely NO problem with that,and I KNOW YOU MEAN WELL,as I do.However,to me,the Univ is, simply put,another potentially fine cartridge,that some have garnished a true enthusium for.Heck,my pal's new,and improved Titan sounds darn near perfect to me.Come to think of it,my Transfiguration Temper-v gives me little to complain about.So,some very nice people,that I have been priviledged to correspond with happen to "LOVE" their cartridge too,and mention it ALOT!!I'm sure it is another,of a never ending collection,of really fine performers,to have recently appeared.It won't be the last!
Also,Frank-I now know you have a propensity,as I do,for some sarcasm and humor(and I like it),but I never felt that I was the "only kid in class to do my homework",and have ALWAYS stated that fact.I mentioned it numerous times in my 2.2 damping fluid posts,some months ago.I,also,try to never dismiss anyone else's findings.
A'hem,I think it was,actually, you who had a thread erased a couple of months ago,in so doing what you,sort of,accuse me of,but I like you anyway!
Boy I really hope you guys don't get too mad at me.I'm just a bit frustrated this weekend,since I pulled a hamstring,just when my tennis game was taking off!!I guess I deserve any nasty responses directed at me!Bed rest "sucks"!!
I like you too, but since you've "stirred the pot" a little steam is to be expected ... ;-).
As long as our systems keep us coming back to listen to more music, they do what they're supposed to do. That inkling of a difference, be it existant on an absolute scale or just a matter of personal preference, is fun to discuss, but fighting over it? Nah...
And I do wish you a speedy recovery!
First off, I enjoy your posts and don't take any offense. I think that they are well intended and keep me on my toes a bit. You do have a tendency to get a bit excited at times and maybe a bit too skeptical or perhaps cynical. I am happy with your demanding questions, but I think your cynicism (some of it is wise) gets the better of you.
A few things for you to ponder:
Your time line is off on my recommendations for the Schroder. I have heard the Schroder Reference in my system on two separate occasions. The first time was in June of 2004 and the second time was in March of 2005. I started talking about the Schroder in any real level of detail after the March 2005 get- together.
I got into the concept of adjusting the Damping fluid 9 months ago (October of 2004 to be exact) when I read a thread that you and David (4Yanx) participated in. In December of 2004, I along with Doug Deacon and Paul worked on my system for a long weekend (2 full days) playing with the damping fluid and the VTA in my system). So, I was already on board with the benefits of the damping fluid well before our March 2005 get together and before all of my fawning over the Schroder Reference. I also was able to listen extensively to the Schroder Reference in January 2005 in another system.
Here is Davids (4yanx) thread where I first started getting involved in playing with the damping fluid in my Graham 2.2. Ironically, you also posted on the same post after I did.
I also was out championing the value of finding the correct damping fluid in February of 2005 which you might recall since you and I interacted on the same thread on this subject
On the UNIverse comment about me being ubiquitous with offering my opinions about how great the UNIverse is: I have limited my comparison comments only about cartridges which I have heard and specifically in my own system. I am over the moon about the UNIverse in that it has made the biggest difference in my system of any change that I have made in the last couple of years. I also have a friend who had the same experience with having his system transformed by the addition of the UNIverse.
I have been passionate about a few components and tweaks that I think are wonderful in the hopes that I am able to help fellow audiogon members take the shortest route in getting to audio heaven. If you poke through my postings you will find that I also am a big advocate of cryoing, Teres Turntables, Symposium Rollerblocks and Supratek Pre-amps. You could make the same assertion that I carry the torch for those products in addition to the UNIverse and Schroder Reference.
Thank you for the apology but it was not necessary. The only reason you are obnoxious at times is that you live in the New Jersey / New York area. Now that I don't live in New York, I am not obnoxious and can help you mend your ways. I agree with you that Frank was way too nice to you and really should take you over the coals a few times (just for my own enjoyment).
I stand corrected!!But,you will, all, hear from me another day!!BTW-My Siemens CCa gamble,acquired for my phono section(3 rediculously low noisers,that replaced the wonderful Ediswans)turned out to be a great move.I absolutely HAD to have them,as I had NEVER seen tubes test this low in noise,EVER!!Went for my lungs too,actually I only had to sell a kidney,but,got good money for it,and don't really pee as much in tennis season anyway.My only system tubes are the three in this phonostage,and I have tried 8 differing types,with this being the Triple Crown Winner!!I,actually,NOW know how you feel about the Univ.,as of this point in time.
Got to go now,it's time to dress the wound from the surgery.I may also be willing to sell a lung,in the future if I can acquire some Amperex "pinched waist" variety,that test as low in noise as these CCa's.You should hear my beloved "handbell" reference disc now.Talk about resolving power,and with a crappy Transfiguration,to boot.What body part do you think a Univ is worth?
OK-I'm really going now...........
Floating your Speedy Boat ... Hi Speedy,
I could have been a bit more clear in my description of my year long experience with the 2.2. My take on Bob and his tonearms is that:
(1) Bob Graham is a very gifted engineer
(2) He has an aesthetic vision and knows how to reach his goal
(3) His aesthetic sense does not quite match my sensibilities
(4) He is a great guy
Perhaps I should be selling his arms too, because I in no way want to dictate my taste upon others.
To give you a bit of background, my musical tastes go all over the map - from small chamber music, 20th Century String Quartets, Bluegrass / Newgrass (and their spin-offs), Caribbean Jazz, 60's West Coast Rock (The Airplane and the Dead), and more ...
My system is oriented around single ended triodes and horns, although I'm not by any means married to this architecture ... I'm married to music, and find that the sound of good products tends to converge around a central point - irrespective of their design architecture. I think for example that my turntables share many of the virtues of the great rim drive 'tables of the past.
I emphasize replacing every capacitor in the signal path of my electronics with iron (transformers), as I've found the sound to be more pure, direct, and immediate. I do not however favor a false or etched sound, as I'm certain no one in this discussion does. The sound of an interstage transformer (a good one) to my ears, and everyone in my listening group strips away layers of murk in comparison to even Audionote sliver capacitors, while at the same time affording excellent isolation between amplification stages. Enough of the geek stuff ...
Last year, I brought my turntable fitted with a Graham 2.2 and Denon DL 103R over to a friend's house. I tend to not travel with expensive cartridges. I think a good turntable with a good arm, does not need a top flight cartridge to strut its stuff - as long as the cartridge matches the arm, of course. In the same way, I consider a vacuum tube circuit that depends on rare, expensive tubes to sound good be an unacceptable design. The circuit should sound good with run of the mill JJ Teslas, Sovteks, etc. Of course it will sound better with rare, fine tubes, but it should not depend on them.
This fellow had sold his Graham 2.2 because it sounded too lean 'n mean for his tastes in the context of his system balance. As an aside, he (Grant Gassman on my owners' page) owns a Dynavector XV-1 - an incredible cartridge which could tempt me away from a ZYX. The Graham 2.2 on my rig in his system actually had more "muscle" than Grant's rig and he commented that he would never have sold his 2.2 had it sounded like this.
My 'table has something to do with this, but that's a whole 'nuther story. The point of the above diatribe, that I've lived with a 2.2 and have a good idea about how to set it up, and impressed a former owner of the arm - a highly discriminating individual.
The 2.2 is an expression of a fine man who's vision is not quite in sync. with my musical aesthetic. It's an arm which I can envision many people being extremely happy with. I'd love to hear the Phantom, and from comments I've heard, it is a continuing improvement of the breed. One hates to predispose oneself to supposition and prognostication, but my guess is that I'll walk away from the experience with continued respect for Bob's designs while still not considering it to be quite my cup of tea. But then again ... I could be wrong.
Yes ... the Robin is underpriced for the sonic goods it delivers - Art Dudley's opinion notwithstanding.
Thom @ Galibier
Thom,PLEASE!I'm happy that you are a confident and successful(not to mention nice guy)audio/music lover/dealer!!The fact is that all of these fine products could probably satisfy any of us.Based on your comments,and your not carrying the 2.2,as well as you claiming that it's musical aesthetic does not appeal to you,I stand by my original thoughts!Believe me,I'm not one who is rushing to the defense of something I own,that gets a bad rap from someone.I really don't care,but I do know when I'm being played,"just a bit"!And that's OK.As for the NOS tube "swipe",I was merely expressing an enthusiastic "moment".Of the 8 different tube type/families I've tried,in my phonostage,5 were superb!I could have lived with any of them,but you probably knew that.The new ones,simply happen to appeal to my tastes,not my psyche!You probably knew that too,but got a bit of a "RUSH" trying to knock me down.Though very politely.Thanks!I have no problem with that,as this forum is sort of fun when we take some liberties,in baiting oneanother.
A good tube circuit WILL sound better with better tubes.Some people are content with "run of the mill" tubes.I have never spent big money on NOS tubes,other than the three,recently,and since it was only THREE,it was not all that expensive,especially when you(of all people)take into account the costs of cartridges/tables/arms.Even the lower cost ones.How much does your table cost??So,who are we trying to kid,about a tube circuit,in a set-up that contains fine products(like the ones you sell)being deprived of the finest available support.I'll bet your turntable customers would like a BIT MORE!I've tried the Sovtek's,that you seem to like,and they were not for me,or my friend,who has my exact unit.
Also,it is fine if you really believe that a "good turntable and arm" do NOT need a top flight cartridge,but they sure sound a LOT better with one.Unless you have a tube phonostage with run of the mill Sovteks!Best of luck!!
Also,PLEASE understand that my comments are made with tongue firmly implanted in "cheek",so don't hunt me down,I have kids.
Sir, with due respect, it seems that you are predisposed to being dismissive of the Phantom without the benefit of an audition. I find your tone patronizing if not condescending to Mr. Graham, who I am, sure, is perfectly capable of defending his products. I happen to own the Phantom, which I consider to be quite my cup of tea.
Well, opinions will vary from System to System, and when someone is fascinated from a product, well, he will write about it. That's the advantage of a Forum, to have contact to "users". When a user sells this product, because he has to make money with something, why not, lots do that. And on the other side, raving about this and that is way cheaper than advertising in TAS, travel around to reviewers, to accept the risk, that the review will be not so "ave'd", the importer hoped etc. The Internet makes lots of things much simpler.
And of course, it is always the "personal" opinion ( because we all love each other, because we want to "help" each other, to find the holy grail of true music reproduction faster and of course, "cheaper" ....
But when this opinion will not fit to others, then the "corrections " will come. Interestingly, always from those, who push something.
Well, of course I have a tongue in my cheek, same right for everyone ....
Just curious guys, I just read this whole stream of posts and wonder what extremes everyone went through to get these various arms set up and working their best.
The Graham in particular, I have owned three, is an excellent arm. Having switched to the Walker with linear track arm I don't miss any of them, but personally I got better performance from a Graham than several other great arms, including the AirTangent 10B and Triplanar.
First of all, if you are able to adjust the VTA on the Graham, your not hearing it correctly. The set screw MUST be tightened to get imaging correct. The arm will not adjust if the set screw is tight.
So, set VTA and tighten the screw.
If the factory washers under the head shell screws are present, REMOVE THEM. In fact, best to buy Allen head (non magnetic) screws and use a torque wrench to set the inch pounds correctly (Rega makes a great one), or again, you have not heard it's dynamic ability. While youre at it, remove the finger lift off the Graham head shell. It resonates and tempts the user to set down the cartridge by hand rather than using the lift device.
Also, the alignment gauge for the Graham is not correct (in my opinion). The cart align is closer to correct for it and close to the formula used by Breuer Dynamic (CH) who's products I brought into the country some years ago (a great guy and a great tonearm for the time).
The Graham uses elastic materials in several places which tend to move with time. They store energy and after a set up is complete and listening begins in earnest, the settings can change ruining the end result.
I've seen the track force on a Graham 2.2 change 300ths of a gram in less than 10 minutes. This also effects VTL and azimuth as it is a unipivot.
This arm can be a pain in the ass to get perfect, but when it is, its an excellent performer. How does it compare to the Schroder Reference? I havent a clue, never heard one in a situation where I could make a valid assessment.
More grist for the mill.
Thomasheisig I think you completely got the wrong end of the stick. If Thom Mackris's (or anyone else) intended to hype his product he could easily register in several other user ids and then use them to write rave reviews and recommend his product in response to every "what should I buy?" question.
I read Thom's posts with the same interest (and absence of BS filters) as those of Raul Iruegas', Jean Nantais' and Doug Deacon's. All share a passion for really good audio reproduction and have invested substantial amounts of time and money in pursuit of their goals and as such they have considerable experience to share.
You may have noticed that the growth of the usenet has allowed extreme audio hobbyists to find one another and develop an alternative, direct distribution channel. This gives us all access to equipment that is designed and built without the constraints of penny-pinching accountants or industrial engineers who insist on design for ease of assembly.
Having met Thom I know that he is refreshingly objective and honest when discussing an audio products' strengths and limitations. His approach is that of an enthusiast not a salesman.
Of course if you prefer to place your trust in the glossy magazines and the payola of display advertising that's your call. Btw, have you ever seen a product or brand that advertises regularly in a magazine get a bad review? I haven't.
I think it's to their credit that the 'boutique' manufacturers don't waste their resources on the lottery of audio reviewers, instead relying on personal auditions and referrals.
Albert,of the three 2.2's in my audio circle,ONE has had the problem of "slight" off adjustments,over a reasonable amount of time.Not 10 minutes,and it is possible that the owner's floppy,home made dustcover,could be the culprit.Maybe there was a flaw in some arms,that has been corrected.I've never heard of this,in the arms of more recent vintage.You make a great point,as to the VTA set screw.The set screw in the Triplanar,I thought(when I owned that arm)was much worse,in terms of audibility between tight vs non tightened.
The Graham manual,as of now,does mention the use vs non use of the washers,though they give the end user the option,mentioning that without the washers,you can scratch up the top,a bit.I guess it's a matter of owner decision.I like your little finger lift advice.I had mine off on the Triplanar,some years ago,but have left mine on the 2.2.Hmmm!Maybe I can squeeze a bit more out of it.Thanks.
NOW GET BACK TO WORK ON REPORTING YOUR FINDINGS ON THE DARN TUBED CROSSOVER,FOR THE MEGALINES!!I'm really fascinated with that speaker!!
Yo!(well I do live in the tri-state NY area),might as well sound like a "New Yawka".I now realize why I decided to leave the little finger lift on the 2.2,when I set that arm up.
It WAS because,as you know Larry,and you probably forgot,Albert(and I don't blame you,since you have the FABS Walker),there is a small gap of about 2 inches that the arm travels,from arm rest to the cue bar(where one has to manually set it down).If the arm should slip,in that gap,Sayonara to the cantilever,possibly!I am a bit paranoid about that,so I'll probably keep my lift in place.Best of luck to all!
Gosh, I'm not quite sure where to start ... let's consolidate:
1. To Gmorris:
I'd love to know how you can consider my comments in my original post June
24th on to be "patronizing if not condescending" (as you stated on 06-30).
From that June 24th post:
Will I play with a Phantom at some time? Absolutely! We all have to play
triage with our time, however. I have a new platter and armboard to
develop, and it's the peak of the bicycling and climbing season here in
It is exactly because I know that Bob has a vision and knows how to manifest
it into reality that makes me less than anxious to carve time I don't have
in order to try one. If a vineyard produces excellent Merlot, but you don't
like Merlot, would you rush out to buy 5 cases? I think not. Could the
wine be so good that you become converted to Merlot? Possibly.
2. To Speedy:
I think we're in complete agreement. My comments about tubes and cartridges
was intended to say that a good design (an amplifier, or a turntable/tonearm
combo) should not depend on high quality tubes and cartridges in order to
convey the musical truth.
I absolutely agree with you that these designs benefit greatly from choice
tubes and cartridges. The comment was directed at designs which throw
boutique components at a problem instead of implementing solid engineering
In the realm of weird, good tubes, I've been wrestling with a line stage
design which uses the 71a tube - a directly heated triode. My buddies are
using an even more esoteric tube for their version of this line stage - a
Telefunken RS-241. Still, I go back and forth with the circuit - plugging
in garden variety 6SN7's, 12B4A's and 1626's, because if it sounds bad with
these tubes, I know I'm doing something wrong. The final design (if I ever
finish) will most definitely use special tubes.
Again ... I should really consider carrying the Graham or at least sourcing
it for my customers. I have no right to dictate (and it's not my intention)
this fine a degree of taste to anyone.
3. To Albertporter:
You are absolutely correct about the alignment system. Conceptually it is
brilliant and well implemented. I think that it affords the type of fellow
who does not pay great attention to setup, the opportunity to get much
closer than they normally would.
The problem with the alignment jig arises from the fact that it depends on
precisely dialing in the pivot to spindle distance by plugging the hole in
the headshell into a plastic extension that is fit over the record spindle.
This would work perfectly with a fixed bearing tonearm. With the unipivot,
there is inherent rocking, and you cannot get this pivot to spindle distance
setting "nuts on". When I used this technique and then verified it with my
protractor, the overhang was off by a bit over a millimeter.
My advice to people is to experiment for themselves and see what works.
If you get a chance, you should come up to the Rocky Mountain Audiofest
http://www.audiofest.net/ at the end of September. Allocate a
few extra days and catch the changing season in the high country. It's a
truly spectacular time of year. You'll get to hear a Walker in the Red Rock
Audio room. Lloyd will be there and have set it up. I'd love to meet you.
4. To Cello (Larry):
I'm an ex New Yorker. After some 15 years in Colorado, does it still show
(cheek bulging from tongue - likely in conjunction with size 9.5 foot firmly
planted in mouth).
5. To Thomasheisig:
Two things that may not be apparent is that for many small manufacturers and
distributors - audio is not their primary business. If it were, we'd all be
on welfare. Truth be told, I have no good reason to promote Schroeder
tonearms because we all as resellers can get very few on an annual basis.
My 2005 annual allotment almost sold out. It is more in my best interest to
carry as many brands and sell the product which requires the least support
and makes me the most money. From this perspective, I am acting against my
own best interest by not selling the Graham.
As far as taking risks and submitting my products for review, I have done
this. While my 'table received "only " a Class B rating from Stereophile, I
expected nothing more from a reviewer who still maintains that the Linn
Sondek is the single machine that cures all of the world's ills. Truth be
told, the only reason I submitted to the review was to lend an air of
"reality" to my small company - that it really exists. I knew all too well
that without being an advertiser that I would not a rating consistent with
the sound I know I'm producing.
If you are interested, you can read the review here:
http://stereophile.com/artdudleylistening/1004listening/ and my
manufacturer's reply here: http://www.galibierdesign.com/rants_03.html.
6. To Flyingred:
Thanks for the encouragement. I ain't such a bad guy when you get to meet
Yes, the new Internet model allows crazy guys with more passion than common
sense to build and sell gear having entry point into an industry that did
not exist 10 years ago. We all win with this new model.
I think that forums like this provide a 2-way feedback loop (sometimes
feedback can be good) by blurring the line between manufacturer and
consumer. I have an extensive rant about this on my blog
(http://www.galibierdesign.com/blog.html#20050601) if you're interested. I won't bore you more with it here.
In forums like this, we all learn valuable lessons from each other as well
as making new friends who share our passion.
Thom @ Galibier
Lapaix: May I relate my experience the Schroeder Reference? For over 30 + years I have been a Tube and LP guy. Over that period of time I have auditioned/listened to so many combinations of tonearms/turntables that I feel somewhat jaded. On a Bell Curve I estimate 97% or so fall in the middle , a tad are down-right failures ( mostly early attempts at stereo T/A or sloppy plastic cheapies ) and mostly none in the top 1%. That all changed for me when Frank appeared at my good friend's home, Barry Tayman in Columbia , Maryland (USA) , where Frank personally installed his Reference Tone-Arm on a Verdier. The results were shocking. Frank's work obilerated a $15k+ TA/TT combo within moments of playing time. That's how good the Schroeder/Verdier mating can be. Lord knows what that T/A contributes to other turntables but I feel confidant that the result I had the pleasure to experience would probably be repeated with other Turntable renditions. Note that I have avoided comment on cartridges because to me that purchase is the most personal of all being dependent on factors including age, sex and hearing ability. But make no mistake whatever cartridge one chooses the Schroeder will extract more of its "soul" than what you could expect. In closing, I recommend that all TT folks read a tome by George Merrill " How to Set Up and Tune Your TurnTable and Tone Arm" sold by "Underground Sound" in Memphis,Tennessee(USA). Slightly dated but nevertheless quite a helpful guide for a lifetime of T/A an'TT pleasure. Cheers To All
Just yesterday I had an opportunity to hear a Schroder Reference and the Graham Phantom on the same turntable (Teres 360). They were fitted with different cartridges (Lyra Olympus on the Schroder and a Koetsu Tiger eye platinum with a diamond cantilever in the Phantom). There was not enough time to switch cartridges so we were not able to do a true apples to apples comparison. However, I did form some opinions that others may find useful. Remember I said OPINIONS so please, no flames.
From what I heard the Phantom appears to be big improvement over the 2.2. I thought that the Schroder/Olympus
combination was clearly better overall. However, the gap was smaller than I would have expected. Reading between the lines a bit I suspect that the Schroder is still quite a bit ahead of the Phantom.
The Phantom has the same ease of setup as the 2.2 and great build quality. There was one small glitch with the setup. The Phantom has less lower VTA range than the 2.2. For this
particular setup there was only about 1/16" downward range left when it was dialed in. Odd that Bob would make a change in this parameter.
I would also like to confirm Cello's comments. I owned a Graham 2.2 for about 1-1/2 years and at the time it was my favorite, easily displacing an older Triplanar. However, it was completely out classed by the Schroder Reference. I spent considerable time with both arms so this was not just a quick comparison. This conclusion was confirmed twice during the well conducted comparisons that Cello has already discussed.
Albert: The setup for these evaluations were carefully done . No doubt all of the parameters were not dialed in to perfection, but they were close. Similar effort went into each tonearm setup so in my mind the playing field was even. If am arm needs hours of fine tuning to sound right then that should be considered to be a liability. That liability rightly should be part of the evaluation equation. Not that I think that came into play here, more of a philosophical point. Besides that magnitude of the differences we heard between each of the tonearms was much more than what could be explained by setup differences.
Gmorris: Love fest you say... Funny how this mantra often comes up when a group of people enthusiastically endorse a product. It would pay to ask why the "love fest" exists rather than dissing it. Maybe it is simply because the product is a good as it is claimed to be. I both recommend and sell Schroder tonearms. From a business perspective this is a poor practice. Many sales have been and are stalled waiting for a tonearm from heir Schroder. So what possible motivation could I have for recommending Schroder tonearms other than I think that they are the best choice for my customers. I have an arrangements to OEM Graham, Basis, Orign Live, Morch and Triplanar tonearms. All of these tonearms have better availability. I recommend Schroder tonearms because I believe in them. When I find a better tonearm, I will recommend it. No conspiracy here.
Teres,thanks SO much for the feedback.I find your comments extremely interesting,and will consider them at a future point.Though you do indicate there were two differing cartridges at play,I feel confident that you were able to extrapolate some meaningful results.That being said,I do wish you could report back,soon,as to a final comparison using the same cartridge.
Recently Michael Fremer,giving a RAVE review of the Phantom (which I'm sure is wonderful)stated that he could not get a Schroeder Ref for review,and went on to assume that this was because of the backlog in orders,and that a review could be taking a chance.While I understand this,and don't know the reasoning,I am fascinated as to what that potential review would be like!
as I needed a new TA for my H&P TT, I did some
Extensive test with a schroeder TA against my
existing Kuzma Airline.
I decided to by another Kuzma Airline.
In both TA I mounted the Myabi and the phono pre
were both Klyne 7 newest model.
So that the only diference is the TA.
I note that you have consistently recommended the Schroeder arms for your turntables. That's fine with me.
You have made a subjective determination based on the comparison of the two arms with different cartridges. Obviously, this is a flawed methodology of comparison: in order to make definitive statements about the relative performance of the Schroeder and the Phantom, it is imperative that the same TT/cartridge and front end/system are the same. Admittedly, it is entirely possible that the Schroeder may subjectively sound better on your TTs even with the same components/system. However, the opposite may be true in other systems. In audio there is virtually no absolute truth.
Gmorris: Of course the Reference/Phantom comparison was flawed. For this reason I was careful to not make any definitive statements about that comparison. I offered my opinions based on a less than ideal comparison, nothing more.
For my comments about the Schroder vs. 2.2 it's a different story. In that case the comparison conditions were about as good as you can get. There was clear consensus amoung a fairly large number of listeners. In addition the differences that we heard were obvious and significant.
The Triplanar vs Schroder comparison was a different story. I think that most of us favored the Schroder. But it was much more a matter of different vs good and bad. I expect that in a different system context or with different personal preferences the Triplanar may well have been favored. This was not the case with the Schroder vs 2.2 comparison. Regardless of personal perferences or system contex it's hard for me to imagine that anyone would favor the 2.2 over any of the Schroder models. It was not a subtle difference. It was not just a different presentation.
This whole debate seems odd to me. There is a group of people that have not heard a Schroder tonearm that bristle when they hear a claim that it is superior to the 2.2. I have yet to hear from anyone who has heard both and say anything different. Maybe I am wrong and someone will make the comparison and disagree. Thats fine. I just don't get the resistance to what seems like credible evidence.
While I think that it would be interesting to have Michael Fremer's opinion/review on the Schroder Reference, I can not see why it to be a positive move for Frank Schroder to get a review done.
He has been continually overwhelmed with orders and has had a 4-6 month backlog of orders on his plate at all times for the last couple of years. He cannot increase production since all of the tonearms are hand made by him personally and he is already working overtime just to try to keep up with the orders he gets.
Having a review done that was favorable would only put more pressure on him personally and create frustration for the new potential customers who would have to wait even longer than the 4 - 6 months.
Having a review that was negative (not likely) would also not be beneficial.
While I understand your desire to have a professional review since there is no place to hear a demo, I don't know how it makes sense when one looks at the big picture.
I am fortunate to have heard the Schroder Reference 3 times (twice in my system) and it puts me at ease in making my decision. But if I had not been that fortunate to have heard A/B comparisons of the Schroder vs the Graham 2.2 and Tri-Planar (which are both great tonearms from my point of view), I would still be comfortable in making the decision to order a Schroder Reference based on the positive commentary of so many Audiogon members.
In many ways I am much more comfortable with the opinions of Audiogon members who I have come to respect over the last few years.
I do hope that Teres is able to do an A/B comparison of between the Phantom and the Schroder Reference while using the same top end cartridge.
Your explanation to me is not really necessary,as I completely understand the aforementioned reasoning.As a businessman,myself,I completely understand Frank's actions(in general)and would behave similarly,if in his position.I have been criticised for seeming to "lean" towards the Schroder Ref,though truthfully I am a "ponderer",and love to mentally consider(sometimes over a good bit of time)possible ways to increase MY OWN listening pleasure.I haven't made too many mistakes,recently,in applying my idiosyncratic methods.These arm designs,on paper,really fascinate me,and there always seem to be great(sometimes heated)long running threads,that appear on this particular subject.What "fun"!!That is one reason I am so fascinated with the REF.A product that to me is rarer than the elusive Spice Bush Swallowtail!I have no complaints about any of this,and it is all part of the fun for me.I DO consider myself a potential buyer,in the future,but will look,carefully at all parameters,and competition.The REF is HIGH on the list.
I,also,could see making an arguement for the suspicious nature of the TERES statement,based on the timing of the just released RAVE review,of the Graham Phantom,by Michael Fremer.I have some very "contrarian" audio pals,who think along these lines,though I DO NOT.Also,it could be claimed that though TERES may sell all arms mentioned,he may make more profit on the Schroders.Before you get pissed at me Frank,I'm ONLY being the Devil's Advocate here.I DO NOT believe any of this,but these are considerations of some whom I know.I'm sure it was a coincidence.One can get some interesting feedback addressing certain subjects in not so "black and white" ways!Sorry!!Sorry?
To me,there are a couple of "pet subjects" that get my juices flowing.The arm/table/cartridge issue is one.It is amazing,to me,and has been demonstrated time and time again,to me,how critical this parameter is.The whole vinyl presentation relys on all of this,so I take the analog front end really seriously,as I'm sure all of us do.Everyone has their set of values.Best wishes!
BTW Larry,I'm coming to Florida next week (my dad's been under the weather,and I really must see him and my mom).Any places readily available,for me to hear a Shroder REF?I'll be in the Tamarack area,but will have my dad's auto available to me.I have no problem auditioning a REF,so long as I get in my tennis first!I'll be in from next thursday 'til tuesday,with my wife and daughter,but can steal away for the elusive REF?Get it?
BTW-this is really short notice,so I completely understand if there is NO REF available to audition!Best regards!
The only thing that Teres might be guilty of is having fallen in love with the Schroder Reference Arm.
I have known him long enough to know that he would only offer a non-biased honest opinion. He is truly one of the good guys who is truly passionate about our great sport.
I would assure you that Teres is far above being so calculating as to time a posting on Audiogon to coincide with Fremer's review. I will let him speak for himself, but I am assuming that it is merely coincidental.
The timing of my Phantom audition was purely coincidental. In fact it's kind of funny story. Myself and the owner of the Phantom had just finished fine tuning and listening to both the Schroder and the Phantom and took a break for lunch. His wife brought in the mail and handed us the new Stereophile issue with the Phantom review. So our impressions were formed before seeing the review, but just barely...
I tried to email you and it bounced back to me (as it always has when I try to email you) with a message saying:
" --- The message cannot be delivered to the following address. ---
firstname.lastname@example.org Mailbox unknown or not accepting mail.
550 email@example.com...User unknown ".
Email me and I will respond to your email.
Well I don't have a Schroeder arm, but I'll tell you anyway.
I talked to Donna earlier this week and she said something about the end of the month, obviously indicating that the 19th was OUT. It was one of those vague references that did not include a real date, so there is no pressure on the speaker to live up to any expectation. Am I frustrated? I'll let you guess the amswer to that one.
I should know better by now. Last time I dealt with Sota I think it took three months to get my table back.
Anticipation sounds too much like dissipation.
My anticipation has dissipated into frustration...
Nrchy,mine was a long wait as well,but,SOTA is a small co.,and I assume you would only want Kirk to do the work,in assembling new products.I guarantee you that I waited longer,but it WAS worth it,in the long run.Best wishes.BTW--Any movement on the "Umbilical" issue?
Larry,what with your own private secretary,and seemingly nice "cushy" job(meant as a compliment),I can see a nice new handcrafted German tonearm in your future.That should put an end to the "Sibilence" issue.BTW-you sound like a kid on the phone.How many years did you say you've been in the hobby?